image source: Gal Meets Glam
LEARN HOW TO GROCERY SHOP LIKE YOUR MOM…
I asked my mom to teach me how to grocery shop and plan healthy, delicious meals that we can eat for a week. I want my time in the kitchen to be more efficient, to minimize boredom and waste: i.e., not throw away a lot of shriveled old food at the end of each week.
Other guidelines: leftovers are fine, but not every night, and I don’t want to start every meal from scratch. I am happy to eat a few meals out but most definitely don’t want to live on greasy and expensive takeout.
Easy she replied back. Be smart about how and what you grocery shop. Keep essential — and not so essential — pantry items on hand. And the recipes? Keep them simple.
YOUR PANTRY IS YOUR ARSENAL
You should have a reasonably stocked pantry, which means salt and black pepper – preferably peppercorns that you grind when needed – an array of commonly used spices, like basil, oregano, crushed-red-pepper flakes, chili powder, curry powder, thyme, and cinnamon; olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and low sodium soy sauce. Also, I recommend you have toasted-sesame oil, unseasoned rice-wine vinegar – which is a great substitute for lime juice – and Dijon mustard.
Equipment is just as important as ingredients. There are basics that will get you through almost everything. You will need measuring cups and spoons, tongs, a blender, a cutting board, a sharp knife, a can opener, a mixing bowl, a potato masher or fork, a wooden spoon, and, most important, a large cast-iron or another ovenproof skillet. If you don’t have any of these, you won’t be sorry you go out and purchase them!
SUNDAY: TAKE STOCK, GROCERY SHOP, AND COOK DINNER
WHAT YOU NEED TO GROCERY SHOP:
The rice and oats will last a year; the beans, broth, and coconut milk 6 months unopened.
- baguette or loaf of bread (freeze when you get home)
- 16-ounce container steel-cut oats
- 28-ounce bag brown or white rice
- 15 ½-ounce can black beans or chickpeas
- 32-ounce box chicken broth (I prefer boxed to canned)
- 13 ½-ounce can coconut milk
- 11-to-15-ounce box mesclun or whatever kind of salad greens you like
- 1-pound bag carrots
- a handful of green beans (4 to 5 ounces)
- sweet potato
- a big handful of snow peas (4 to 5 ounces) 10-to-12-ounce box grape tomatoes
- English cucumber
- head of garlic
- apple, whatever kind you like
DAIRY AND MEAT:
- 4 to 6 chicken thighs
- dozen large eggs
- 1-quart plain yogurt
- 8-ounce block Cheddar cheese
- 5-ounce tub firm or extra-firm tofu
- 2-ounce jar sesame seeds
- 14-to-16 ounce bag frozen peas
- 14-to-16 ounce bag frozen berries
Depending on where you live and where you shop, this should cost between $50 and $75.
ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH GREEN BEANS & SWEET POTATOES
This recipe is surprisingly simple and quick, but if you prefer to make the chicken more complex, add additional dried herbs like oregano and basil, or spices like chili powder and cumin. Or slather the thighs with Dijon mustard — or better yet, mustard and pesto.
If thighs aren’t your favorite, use drumsticks or breasts, but be sure to leave the skin on, because it adds a great crispy texture as well as flavor.
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 thighs
- 4 to 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed-red-pepper flakes
- a handful of green beans ends trimmed
- sweet potato, scrubbed and pricked with the tines of a fork on one long side (this allows the steam from inside to escape and is actually important)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side up.
- Sprinkle with the salt, thyme, red-pepper flakes, and black pepper.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven, and put the sweet potato, pricked side up, on the rack next to the skillet. After 40 minutes, remove the skillet from the oven. Carefully tilt it over a heatproof container to allow the excess fat from the chicken to drain out.
- Add the green beans to the skillet, and return it to the oven. Cook until the chicken is crisp and golden-brown on top, 5 to 10 additional minutes.
- Serve yourself 1 to 2 chicken thighs, all the green beans, and half the sweet potato. Cover and refrigerate the leftovers.
While the chicken is cooking, make:
It is critical — unless you hate salad — to learn how to make a great one. A good basic vinaigrette is half the battle. I also recommend you have an assortment of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds on hand to sprinkle into your salads. They are expensive but oh-so-worth-it for their transformative powers. Cheese, fruit, and beans are also great additions. Hard vegetables like red cabbage and carrots are good because they last a long time in the refrigerator. The best salads have crunchy, soft, salty, sweet, a little bit of everything.
Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 cup
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ cup vinegar (any kind) or fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch black pepper
- Place everything in a jar and shake well (or if you have a blender, blend until completely mixed).
- Use right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
- Shake well before using.
Variations: Add any of the following:
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons any-herb pesto or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, or mint
- 2 anchovies, mashed, and 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon curry powder